The Perils of Undeserved Success: Understanding Adil’s infidelity (Made in Heaven)
Made In Heaven knocked the sock off my feet.
Every character made me think hard on why they were doing what they were doing but the one character whom I couldn’t seem to understand was Adil and just one question ran across my mind.
Why did he cheat?
Cheating across the world is a taboo subject and understanding and empathising with cheaters can be seen as justifying their actions which is not my intention but understanding the why of his actions remains important to understand him as a person.
Why was it difficult to understand why he cheats?
Because it seems he is in a happy marriage. Tara is completely devoted to him, is gorgeous by conventional beauty standards and truly loves him. He too married her out of his love for her with no force on him whatsoever then why?
To understand this, we need to understand Adil as a person.
First and foremost the trait that defines most of his personality is his being born uber-rich — an insider. He is born in a house which is one of wealthiest in the country and this keeps on defining everything — his ideas of himself and his ideas of others around him. The one thing we need to remember is — his success and wealth are undeserved. Being born in a rich home does not automatically make you worthy of the wealth and any conscious, thinking mind knows this. But, accepting is another question? Does Adil accept this? If not, then how does he come to terms with it?
This question is not only for Adil but for literally every person who is born into privilege and for a long time society has made mechanisms to stop individuals from dwelling into such questions. In India, the caste system exists to answer this question. The upper caste convinces themselves that their privilege is due to their karma. They must have done good deeds in their past life so they deserve their privilege, this also means that the LC deserves the cards they have been played for their past deeds in a previous life.
To go one step further, I know for a fact that all Hindus don’t believe in multiple lives like Adil but even then they can justify privilege to themselves by simply saying to themselves — we are born in a certain class and we as people are class apart from others. This is obviously a lie but needs to be justified in the privileged person’s life, whose life will fall apart and their belief system will be shattered if he/she cannot do it. So, for this, the privileged person finds proxies — dressing better, travelling, elite education, lavish properties, knowledge of exotic food, reading classic books, tasting wine — multiple proxies are used which are bestowed by the wealth are also used to justify the wealth itself. The justification to themselves also has another side to it — belittling others. Other than justifying their privilege to themselves, the best way to make themselves feel better is to belittle others. Show themselves how uncouth, dumb, unclassy others are and that this is something ‘inherent’. The classless-ness of others is inherent while their sophistication is inherent and that’s how it is. There are many examples of this behaviour
In life, Sonam Kapoor has made statements of how she deserves her wealth due to her Karma when targeted for being a talentless actress and nepotism charges.
Upper-caste in India regularly engages in shaming the SCs in benefiting from reservations as they are ‘not smart enough’ to get it themselves without taking into account that the person is the first generation who is going to school while they have had multiple generations take benefit of the education and job system which was exclusively reserved for them.
In fiction, we can see this in The White Tiger. Ashok who is America-returned tries to be as much of a ‘progressive man’ as is possible for him but there are limits to it and he too succumbs to justifying his undeserved privilege to him by insulting his ‘half-baked’ driver who is half-baked only because Ashok’s own father had withdrawn the driver from school to make him work at a young age.
Ashok justified his uncharitable life by recounting one instance of charity he does every year and how he just can’t do more because taxes are so damn high but feels insulted when the driver gives money to the poor because it reminds him that his excuses are a lie he tells himself.
Adil engages in the exact same behaviour, his subconscious strategy is two-fold, he justifies to himself he is class-apart due to his refined taste and wealth, he is smarter, and puts others down like when Mr.Jauhari for being a ‘plumber’ and tells him off for not knowing elite-wedding business when the suggestions made by Mr Jauhari are the same suggestions Adil had himself made to Tara earlier in the show. He even goes one step further and insults his own wife Tara for being classless and tells her that clearly, one cant marry into class simply because she, in a fit of justified anger, destroys things at Faiza’s house (who by the way is the person Adil cheats on her with). Upping himself and putting others down is how he goes about doing it.
The thing about lying to yourself is that there is a limit to how much it can protect you and reality remains what it is. Adil has not built the business he has so ‘undeservedly’ inherited. To justify his inheritance, he must work hard and take the business up a notch which we notice that he is failing to do. Mr Jauhari reminds him that his wife is 3% shareholder in Adil’s company and he has been noticing that Adil has been making new factories even though there are no profits to show for the existing business. This is weird coming from Adil because he himself had asked Made In Heaven to focus on profits and not on opening new office but he himself succumbs to the charm of opening a new office which is an easier way to make it look like you are expanding the business and having something to your name.
Thus, his idea of being smarter than others and having the business acumen falls flat because he truly is not better than others at running the business and he has to accept that he has got it simply because he was born where he was born and not because he is worthy.
Since he is loath to accept this he turns to his tried and tested strategy of putting others down.
There is another area of his life where we see him going to make himself feel better — love.
At first, I thought Adil is just another guy who easily gets bored with women but it is certainly deeper than that. Adil truly wants to be the saviour of these women. When Adil was dating Natasha, he cheated on her with Tara because she was the fragile, lower-middle-class woman back then whom he could save. Years later, Tara has completely become her own woman, she runs her own business, doesn’t rely on Adil for anything so now, Adil ‘saves’ Faiza. Faiza has had a broken, abusive marriage, turned down by her father in failing to make her marriage work. Adil here too shows up to save Faiza as a lover, friend, confidante and towards the end we also see him pushing her to work for herself. Although, helping Saiza stand on her own feet, works against Adil as the more independent she gets the less saviour- like he shall feel and then again he will have to go on a hunt to find someone to save and feel like ‘saviour’.
Feeling like a saviour makes him feel good about himself which his work fails to do for him where he isn’t as good so he indulges himself here.
The final thing through which Adil seems to be able to indulge in these sabotaging practices is that he is unemotional. It is almost like he has numbed his feelings. He neither listens to his own feelings nor of others. This allows him to discredit his own negative feelings and allows him to disregard those of others. He doesn’t care for people when he puts them down, he does not care for his wife when he cheats on her but most importantly, he never listens to his own pain of feeling unworthy and actively working on it.
What would help Adil is to truly accept his feelings. I understand these are not easy feelings to digest but it is possible. Karan for example in the show is a privileged gay person who never bothers to even accept that only his privilege keeps him away from jail on account of Section 377 but he uses his privilege to speak up for those who can’t stand up for themselves hence he does not shoulder any guilt of undeserved privilege.
Accepting that his success is undeserved and he needs to work hard to feel worthy is a hard pill to swallow for Adil but until he accepts it, he is going to keep looking elsewhere to save himself by becoming ‘saviour.’